In our home, we don’t pay our kids for doing chores, and we never will.
That’s a bold statement. A very bold statement about chores that my husband and I absolutely stand behind. I’m well aware that it sounds somewhat similar to the lofty and well-intentioned, yet foolish, “My children will never watch tv.” But to us, saying we don’t pay our kids for doing chores isn’t a fleeting thought.
Hear me out, though. I never said our children wouldn’t earn money. I just said they wouldn’t get paid for doing chores.
Growing up, I didn’t really have chores. I helped out when I was asked, but I never had a set chore list. In stark contrast, I had friends that had a family chore wheel. This chore wheel would determine their new responsibilities each week.
That chore wheel approach always amazed me, and I loved being a part of that wheel when I spent time with the family. It was based on an understanding that everyone is part of the family and that the household functions as one, and succeeds through the efforts of everyone. The kids, my friends, didn’t get paid for those chores (that I know of, at least). And I never heard them complain. Not once.
It is that memory that I thought back to when my husband and I both agreed that while our children were going to have chores and responsibilities around the home, they would not receive compensation in return for completing tasks.
Why we don’t pay our kids for doing chores?
Chores are a family responsibility.
Yes, they are just children. But they are a part of our family, and family means helping each other out. My husband and I set the example by always helping when the other asks. Neither one of us takes ownership of any specific household job. Sure, I prefer cleaning and my husband prefers mowing the lawn and snowblowing. But we can both do each others preferred chore.
Same goes for our children. They also do not have a set chore list. The best example of this is the dog. Each morning, the dog needs to go outside and gets fed. Typically the first kid up gets asked to help.
This continues for every other household chore. A perfect example of the respect that my son and daughter both have for the household was seen recently. Our son asked if he could go outside. We assumed to play, and said yes. Instead, we found him with the leaf blower on, cleaning up the leaves in the yard. He then raked the piles into a bag and disposed of them over the bank like he has seen my husband do time and time again.
What is so incredible about that? He did it on his own without hesitation, and without being asked. Perhaps he is motivated by the leaf blower, but we enjoy his initiative.
Our daughter constantly asks to help wash the walls. She puts together the bin of warm water with a bit of vinegar (with my help), and takes care of the hand prints that she and her brother leave when they run around corners and crash into walls.
We are a family, and the house belongs to all of us. We respect it, care for it, and enjoy it together.
What will we “pay” them for?
Grades. One thing my husband and I agree on is if our kids earn good grades, they will be rewarded for it with an allowance of sorts that they can put into savings for something they want. How they spend their money will be something we negotiate, however. For example, if they studied incredibly hard and applied themselves, they would be rewarded for their efforts. We never want them to stress over the letter grade they receive, and we do want to reinforce that learning is much more than that letter.
Accomplishments. Our children are rewarded for their accomplishments. Because, truthfully, good grades are not all that matters in life. Whether it’s an athletic accomplishment, a project, or a simple good deed, we are happy to reward our children for that.
Through this approach, we hope that our children learn that hard work gets rewarded, and that being good, genuine and having gratitude goes a long way.
How does this impact their future?
Right or wrong, my husband and I believe that we are setting our kids up to be prepared for real life. No one is paid to take responsibility for themselves.
We will not pay for their college. Yes, you read that right. As of right now, our intention is to not pay for their college education. We also won’t force them to go to college, but that is an entirely different topic to discuss.
The reason we will not be paying for college for our children is to teach them an essential life lesson. When someone pays that much for you, you don’t appreciate it as much as if you paid for the experience yourself. You don’t respect the education, or the opportunity in front of you. It’s much easier to goof off and let your grades slide, when you aren’t worrying about the bills at the end of your studies.
What we will do is assist our kids in any way possible. We will happily research the best colleges, or other career options out there. We will understand how to apply for the loans, and how to prepare for the future together.
And because I’ve personally suffered from debt (college debt combined with credit card debt) I want my kids to understand how spending impacts their future.
My husband and I aren’t naive. We know that there are people in our lives who disagree with us. It’s unpopular to not believe a parent should pay kids for chores. I’ve been told we are being mean. That we are taking away common childhood experiences (like the fact that we don’t do birthday parties). Ultimately though, its our family, and we will raise our children the way we see fit. They are happy and healthy, and that is what matters to us.